The venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is trying to get its former employee Ellen Pao to either agree not to appeal or to pay its expert witness fees after she unsuccessfully sued for sex discrimination. The New York Times reports: "The vast majority of the fees Kleiner is trying to recover are for witnesses. The fees for Paul Gompers, a professor at Harvard Business School, were $92,700, the filing says."
According to the memorandum of costs, in addition to the $92,700 fee to Professor Gompers, there was an additional $140,000 or so in fees to Cornerstone Research for "P. Gompers support," billed at a "50% discount."
Nice work if you can get it. It's not clear how much time Professor Gompers devoted to the case.
These expert witness fees are approaching the level that Warren Buffett complains about when it comes to "independent" director fees — so large as to undercut the credibility of the witnesses. Nothing against Professor Gompers, who probably was a bargain in terms of the value he delivered. But expert-witness fees might be a fine topic for a think-tank conference or a congressional hearing. Would it bolster the cause of justice if a rule required such fees to be limited to some single-digit multiple of what the judge or the jurors are being paid for their time?